So many races, so little time, right? Nearly every weekend, there is another road race in a nearby city or neighborhood. So how do you choose which ones to register for? Here are a few ways that help me to narrow down where I want to toe the start line for varying distances.
This is, by far, the most common road race distance, which of course, makes perfect sense. The permits are easier to secure, the field can be larger since training is less of a commitment, and nearly anyone can complete a 5k – walking or running. Since there are so many 5k’s, there can be some pretty rough ones. I tend to get a bit picky when I choose which ones to race. For me, 5k’s need to cost $25 or less. I just can not justify spending more for a distance that I really don’t train for. I also like these races to be on the smaller side. Running a packed 5k is tough. There is so much bobbing and weaving for the first half of the race. By the time you finally get comfortable, the race is nearly over. Choosing to run a less crowded race makes it far more likely for a great finishing time.
I feel that the 10k is the most difficult distance to actually find a good amount of races for. They are pretty few and far between, compared to the 5k and half marathon, so being picky isn’t a viable option. I like for there to be at least 2 (possibly 3) water & Gatorade stops. Like the 5k, I like to stick to a budget for the race – no more than $35-$40. This does narrow is down a bit, but it is just my preference. There are still races you can find that are good and inexpensive – the St. Pete Times Turkey Trot that I run every year is less than $15. It is pretty hard to beat that! The 10k is such a fun distance to run – I would love to see more of them pop back up!
The Half Marathon
I don’t know about you, but the half marathon distance is my favorite! It is long enough to feel like I’m really getting in a good workout, but short enough so that I’m not super sore and exhausted for the days following. Half marathon courses have to be pretty, and not just an out and back. It is a pretty long way to have to go to just run the exact same way back that you just conquered. I also love a great finisher’s medal. What can I say – I like the bling! I also really appreciate when half marathons have a great post race fueling station – more than just the same old granola bars and bananas. It is so nice to have quality, whole foods when you finish. I like to stay in the 60-$75 range for half marathons, and tend to pick races that are a close driving distance. It’s pretty nice to be able to just wake up and run, rather than having to worry about staying over night and travelling the day prior.
The marathon is always the race I put the most thought in to. When it really comes down to it, this is the only race that I am really putting much effort into training for these days. All of the other races that I have run during training are just that – training races to help me simulate my marathon race day. There are a few very big factors that I use when choosing to run 26.2. First off, the course has to be spectator friendly. My husband is my biggest supporter, and he really loves to come and watch. I usually see him 4-5 times during a marathon, so being able to get around easily is a must for him. Running a marathon course that is conducive to that is key. I also prefer for there to be Gatorade and water at each and every stop. Rock N Roll races tend to do every other station with both drinks. My body needs it nearly every time in the second half of a marathon.
The biggest thing I look for in a marathon is the likelihood of the weather being cool. I am a far better runner in cold weather (aren’t we all!), and if I am training for 16 solid weeks, I prefer to have a cool weather race. Of course, this doesn’t always happen (hello Country Music Marathon!), but I like to at least give myself some decent odds. Nope, I will never be running a marathon in South Florida, or any sort of tropical location. Unless, of course, its Hawaii. Then, I think I can just suck it up The marathon is probably the only distance I don’t pay too much attention to the price. A marathon entry is almost like treating myself, so I am willing to fork over a little more money for it.